Hancock County News

No Dems file for November in Hancock Co.

The path to November’s general election got a little clearer and easier for Republicans in Hancock County as no Democrats have filed for the general election.


While the deadline for Democratic candidates to join the race expired this week, third-party candidates have until July 15 to throw their hat in the ring.


With that news, that means Republicans are slated to hold onto superior court seats, commissioner seats in districts 1 and 3, coroner, and county council at-large.


Earlier this summer, David Stillinger held off a challenge from Joe Fortner in the Republican primary for Coroner.


Incumbent John Jessup earned the nod in the Commissioners District 1 race, while Bill Spalding got the nod in the Commissioners District 3 primary.


For county council at-large, Republicans Kent Fisk, Robin Lowder and Keely Butrum all advanced out of the primary.


For the Superior Court judge seats, D.J. Davis won the Republican nod for Superior Court 1, while Dan Marshall earned the spot for Superior Court 2.


While there are contested races for president and Congress, locally, there is only one contested race.


Incumbent and Republican Michael Crider faces a challenge from Democrat Theresa Bruno for Senate District 28, which includes both Hancock and Shelby counties. 

Hancock Co. schools training, prepping for return to school

As the calendar inches closer to July, schools in Hancock County are continuing to take steps towards reopening in August in a COVID-19 environment.  All four of the Hancock County school corporations are working closely with each other and the county’s health department to design guidelines and all are expecting to resume class on their scheduled start dates.


In a joint statement released by all four of the county’s superintendents, they state that all schools will receive training on COVID-19 symptoms and protocols.


“The safety of all Hancock County students, families, teachers and staff is always our first priority,” the statement reads.


The districts will adhere to county-wide guidelines when it comes to physical health and environmental health.

 

Under the new guidelines, families will self-screen for symptoms and should any symptom be present, they should exclude themselves from school.

 

In addition, staff and students should have a mask with them at all times. While masks will not be required for students at all times, there will be certain situations when wearing one will be required. Schools will also promote social distancing by maximizing instructional spaces and scheduling flexibly. Students can expect assigned seating on the bus, in classrooms and in the cafeteria.

 

Schools will start enhanced cleaning procedures in classrooms, common areas and on high-touch surfaces, and additional hand sanitizer stations will be installed. On the playground, students will be in separate groups to promote proper social distancing and limited interactions with other students.
Furthermore, visitors and guests will be restricted and schools will discontinue perfect attendance incentives to permit families to make the best health choice for their students. Also, immunizations must be up to date.


Implementation of the guidelines will be handled on a corporation by corporation basis, and the schools, along with the county health department, are creating a response plan for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a school building.


Part of the response includes: closing all rooms where the case was present immediately for a deep cleaning and the entire school will be closed if positive close contacts cannot be identified.

Fortville implements riverfront district

Months of questions, discussions and meetings have concluded with the Fortville Town Council approving the implementation of a riverfront district in town. 

 

Indiana law allows municipalities to create a riverfront development district within a redevelopment area. While there is no river in Fortville, officials are using parts of a creek and ditches throughout town for the distinction. The state does have a stipulation that districts have to be within 1,500 feet of a waterway, however, what constitutes as a waterway is open to interpretation.
Several times this year, the council discussed the possibilities a riverfront district could bring to the town and why it was necessary.


Adam Zaklikowski, planning and building director for Fortville, told council the primary reason for seeking the district was to allow for additional alcohol permits throughout the town.
“We are almost at max capacity, and this is a legal way to do it,” he said.


There are three kinds of permits available to restaurants – beer, beer and wine and beer, wine and spirits. Fortville is currently at its max on permits, which are not transferable and do not allow for carryout.

 

The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, may, upon recommendation of the town, issue a non-transferrable permit to the proprietor of a restaurant or event venue for the purpose of selling alcoholic beverages within the boundaries of a riverfront development district.

 

The Fortville Redevelopment Commission determined the creation of the district will help remove barriers to development in the downtown business district. The riverfront district will operate in Fortville’s TIF district, which spans along much of Broadway Street and Maple Street/Fortville Pike. The RDC oversees the TIF district.

McCordsville officer injured answering call

It began as a call of a person threatening harm to themselves and ended with a McCordsville police officer being sent to IU Methodist Hospital with a non-life threatening injury.


According to the McCordsville Police Department, officers responded to the 5000 block of Woodhaven Drive, McCordsville, on a call of a person threatening to harm herself.  When officers arrived, they discovered the suspect, who was under the influence of drugs, had left the scene, prompting officers from McCordsville and Lawrence to begin a search.


When officers located the subject at the Oaklandon Youth Organization, 12150 East 62nd St., they tried to get her out of a vehicle, but she instead attempted to leave the scene, striking her husband and McCordsville officer Jessica Barnes.


The suspect’s husband was treated and released at the scene, while Barnes sustained a non-life-threatening injury to her leg. The suspect was arrested by the Lawrence Police Department.

Several Knightstown police quit in dispute with town council

Fifteen Knightstown police officers have resigned over a power struggle with the town council.

 

Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter Scott Spurgin speaking to WISH-TV.

 

 

The officers became frustrated with the town council's choice for interim police chief, who the officers say is less experienced than the officer recommended by current police chief Chris Newkirk.  Newkirk is off duty due to shoulder surgery.

 

The council said in a Facebook post that there will still be a police presence in town, despite the mass resignations.

 

 

Fifteen Knightstown police officers have resigned over a power struggle with the town council.

 

Knightstown resident and volunteer firefighter Scott Spurgin speaking to WISH-TV.

 

 

The officers became frustrated with the town council's choice for interim police chief, who the officers say is less experienced than the officer recommended by current police chief Chris Newkirk.  Newkirk is off duty due to shoulder surgery.

 

The council said in a Facebook post that there will still be a police presence in town, despite the mass resignations.

 

 

 

Longtime Greenfield business owner found in pond; death investigation

Indiana Conservation Officers are conducting a death investigation after the body of a Greenfield man was recovered from a retention pond Monday evening.  Officers were dispatched to the area of Cone Court and Longfellow Lane in Greenfield regarding a person in the water.  Officers located the body of Charles Schrieber, 87, in four feet of water, near the shoreline.

 

Family had noticed Schreiber was missing from his home and began searching the immediate area. After a couple of hours, they located his body in the pond, around which he frequently walked.

 

Schrieber was the owner of Schrieber's Bait and Tackle in Greenfield for over 60 years.

 

Indiana Conservation Officers were assisted on scene by the Hancock County Coroner’s Office, Greenfield Police Department, Greenfield Fire Territory, and Hancock County Emergency Operations Center Dispatch.

 

Schrieber was the owner of Schrieber's Bait and Tackle in Greenfield for over 60 years.

Walmart warehouse planned for Mt. Comfort corridor

A massive Walmart warehouse is planned for Hancock County.

 

The 2.2 million-square-foot warehouse would have space for 146 truck docks, reports the Indianapolis Business Journal.

 

The warehouse would be built north of the Indianapolis Regional Airport near Mount Comfort.

 

Walmart already has distribution centers in Gas City, Greencastle, and Plainfield.

 

 

 

 

Fortville BLM protest

For Ashleyy Mariee, enough was finally enough.
 

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Mariee knew it was time to get involved and do something.

But what?  After thinking it over, Mariee decided to hold a peaceful protest in Fortville, where she lives.

 

“I have a few reasons why I decided to take that leap and organize a peaceful demonstration because I’m simply tired. I’m tired of seeing the injustice on television every day in front of my eyes, actually going through the injustice myself,” she told Giant FM.

 

Mariee told Giant FM that part of her struggle involves her time in Fortville, where she heard racial slurs and admitted to feeling targeted by police.

 

“I couldn’t have a friend of color come into this town without feeling unsafe. I, myself, felt uncomfortable and unwanted. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way,” Mariee said.

After deciding on what to do, she began trying to convince friends to get involved.

 

“I was talking to a Caucasian friend of mine the day before the demonstration, who didn’t totally agree with what I stood for or what I was reposting on social media. After explaining and doing his own research, he had a complete change of mind. He was so moved and hurt by everything that’s going on that he put in the effort to help make the flyer for the protest. That right there gave me the inspiration and motivation to set up a peaceful protest here in Fortville. Chastity Despain played a major part, as well, on helping me get everything together. She was my voice to the community, and she really helped make it happen,” Mariee said.

 

While many protests have featured demonstrations against police or have seen demonstrators and police clash, such was not the case for Mariee’s, which had the support of Fortville police chief Bill Knauer.

 

“Chief was very quick to respond to my request of supporting this peaceful demonstration. It was amazing to be able to see eye to eye with someone I felt unsafe around. He’s actually an amazing guy, very genuine about his community and police department. He wants change as well, and I can see it,” she told Giant FM.

 

Knauer also was vocal about the demonstration.

 

In a Facebook post, Knauer wrote that there is not one member of the Fortville Police Department that condones what happened in Minneapolis to Floyd. He also wrote that he believed the incident and ensuing fallout was race related.

 

“For so many years, the black community has been treated unfair… Please rest assure, that as long as I’m your Chief, everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, anybody will be treated with respect and professionalism by this department,” Knauer wrote.

 

With the protest behind her, Mariee tells Giant FM she has only begun.

 

“My next step is to continue the unity in this community and spread light and knowledge on the surrounding towns/cities. This march was big for Fortville and its community. I appreciate this town so much more and am just focused on making it better and doing whatever I can to make it better,” she said.

McCordsville investigating treatment plant failure

McCordsville officials received notice recently that its wastewater treatment plant sustained a failure. 

 

An unknown substance has killed off most of the microbiology organisms that are needed for the treatment process. 

 

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management was notified on May 26 when the first incident occurred and has been aiding McCordsville with the emergency. 

 

Treating 450,000 gallons per day if wastewater, the facility uses various treatment methods including screening, settling tanks and biological treatment.  The biological treatment breaks down the waste and consumes the organic nutrients and makes the other treatment methods more effective. The discharge to the facility that killed the microorganisms is unknown, and samples have been sent off to determine a cause. 

 

McCordsville was also notified by the City of Lawrence that discharge had entered a ditch within Lawrence, causing water in the ditch to appear black.

Reward offered for missing Hancock Co. road signs

The Hancock County Highway Department is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the conviction of sign thieves.

 

Over 20 signs are reported to be missing. 

 

If you have any information on the thefts, call the Highway Department at 317-477-1130.

Holland vs Spalding for Hancock Co. Commissioner in District 3

Voters in Hancock County will have a choice in the Republican Primary for County Commissioner District 3 this season between two candidates well versed in law enforcement. 

 

Matt Holland, of the Greenfield Police Department, is going against Bill Spalding, a veteran with the Indiana State Police, to see who will represent District 3, which consists of Blue River, Brandywine and Sugar Creek townships. Brad Armstrong, the incumbent, opted not to run for re-election.
If campaigning in a normal world is tough, both candidates admit the COVID-19 global pandemic has only made things tougher.


Holland told Giant FM, in past campaigns, he was able to rely on going to meetings to talk with voters, go door to door and debate his opponents.


“All of these methods are pretty non-existent during this campaign. Therefore, I have leaned heavily on social media outreach, door hangers and yard signs. However, what the pandemic has effected even more so is the priorities that we will be facing, if elected. The top priority for me is now to help get citizens back to work and to do this in a way that is safe and healthy,” Holland said.
Spalding echoed those sentiments.


“Where once “meet and greets,” in-person fundraisers and talking with the public face to face were the norm, we have been forced to take different approaches like using social media platforms to get the word out,” Spalding told Giant FM.


With a tougher primary to wade through due to the pandemic, both candidates have a clear message to voters, which is to get out and vote.


“My message to voters is to find a way to vote. Don’t take for granted the powerful right to vote and select the person that represents you in government. If you don’t want to be exposed to health concerns, then please request an absentee ballot. I just encourage the voters to research their candidate’s platform and choose who they believe is best suited to represent them and to be their voice,” Holland told Giant FM.


Spalding said his message is to vote in accordance with the state’s plans.


“If you would still like to vote in person, you can, during early voting until June 1 or by voting on June 2, Primary Day,” Spalding said.


Both candidates are quite familiar, however, with the process of running for office and admit they have learned from prior attempts to seek office.


Spalding told Giant FM this campaign has allowed him an opportunity to assess his last campaign.
“As a first responder, I get an up-close view of our mental health problems. I’m concerned about the lack of mental health resources available to people in need. As part of my approach for providing for public safety throughout the county, addressing mental health must be a part of the solution,” Spalding said.


Holland, who ran in 2016, said his prior run helps by allowing him to know what to expect and build relationships with people he met four years ago.


“I have always been heavily involved in helping the community through sitting on multiple boards and collaborating with many community organizations for the past several years. This is something that I just enjoy doing and comes natural and genuinely for me. It helps because people know that I have been involved for many years because that is just who I am. I didn’t just become involved during campaign seasons,” said Holland, who has served on the Sugar Creek Township Board for over five years.


Mental illness and the possible creation of a Veteran Court have been issues discussed in recent months and years.


Both candidates acknowledge they will advocate for those impacted by mental illness.
“I will ensure that the programs that are being proposed at the county level stay on course and are implemented,” Holland said.


Spalding told Giant FM he met with Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton to get his “expert opinion” on a veteran’s court.


“It is believed that, without creating more government, we can still help veterans through our existing special court working in conjunction with the Veteran’s Administration. Like veterans with mental health problems, many other people suffer with mental issues. Traditional incarceration is likely not the best solution, therefore, we must make available non-traditional programs and long-term therapy options. Access to this type of early intervention will cost the county less in the long run,” Spalding told Giant FM.


In addition to mental health, the two say there are also plenty of issues facing Hancock County.
Holland said it is important to help being a catalyst and not a barrier to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and help citizens and businesses get back to work.


“Completing ongoing road improvement projects, healthy and positive economic development, ensuring the new jail construction project stays on time and within budget, improving mental health accessibility and revisiting requirements for tax abatements are the priorities that I am most concerned about. All of these are priorities that need equal attention to keep Hancock County moving in a positive direction,” Holland said.


For Spalding, the addition of another court to help ease caseloads is one of the biggest issues he sees.


“Currently, there are three judges that serve. As the county continues to grow, there will, likely, be a future need to request from the General Assembly permission to create an additional court,” he said.
And, both men believe they are the right one for the job, pointing to experience as the reason why voters should vote for them.


“I am the only candidate for Hancock County Commissioner in District 3 that has experience serving in a local, governing position. Sugar Creek Township has top of the line fire service employees, equipment and facilities all while maintaining fiscal responsibility, having become completely debt free in 2020,” Holland said.


Holland told Giant FM Sugar Creek Township recently completed a new fire station by paying cash and not taking on additional debt.


“This station was completed on time and under budget. I plan to bring this type of fiscal conservatism to the Board of Commissioners. I am genuinely involved in the community and have been for at least the past 12 years and will continue to e. I haven’t just shown up during campaign times in order to try and win an election,” Holland said.


Spalding told Giant FM he has a vision for a “vibrant and growing Hancock County.”


“I have strong relationship-building skills. I have experience managing property and people. I have been the chairman of church property at Zion Lutheran Church and School for the last four years, a $1.5 million property. I understand aspects of maintaining and building facilities, dealing with budgets, contracts and insurance, and cooperating with others. I’ve also been a squad leader for 18 years with the Indiana State Police and have the ability to manage people, resources and ideas well. I believe through wisdom, understanding and discernment, I can provide sound, thoughtful government to the people of Hancock County,” Spalding told Giant FM. 

Thieves seen on camera at New Pal businesses

As a small business owner, Rob Walker understands the risks and challenges that come with his role. What he cannot understand, though is why thieves targeted his business recently.


According to Walker and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, thieves struck both New Palestine Hardware and Walker-IT LLC, 4083 S. Arbor Lane, on May 20.  Video shows two men stealing several items, including propane tanks, potted plants, items from a truck and more. According to a police report, the suspects did an estimated $60,000 worth of damage and stolen property.


Walker told Giant FM that this is the first time he has had anyone break into vehicles, destroy property and vandalize property.


“There have been property stolen in the past, but never to this level. Our community is extremely safe and crimes like this rarely happen,” Walker said.


Walker said he and the staff of both businesses are happy that nobody was hurt in the incidents.
“We, at Walker-IT and New Palestine Hardware, are just happy that no one was hurt and hope that no one else is affected by these people who choose to go against the rule of law and order. Our prayers go out to everyone who is affected during this virus. As always, we will continue to serve the community,” Walker said.


Anyone with any information is asked to call the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department at 317-477-1147.

June 1 meeting to unveil Arbor Homes proposal to build in Fortville

Could Fortville be growing?

 

It is possible, as the Fortville Town Council recently took the first step, approving first reading of a voluntary annexation from Byers Farm LLC of 112 acres, which could be destined for 328 homes.
Earlier this month, Adam Zaklikowski, planning director for Fortville, introduced the proposal by Arbor Homes to build the homes, which have a minimum lot size of 60 by 125 feet, in the northeast corner of North Fortville Pike and County Road 850 North.


Officials from both Fortville and Arbor Homes are working on layout and standards for the project, which still needs approval from both the town council and the Fortville Plan Commission.


On June 1, residents will have an opportunity to see the layout and standards and ask questions. The meeting is slated for 7 p.m.


While the project has cleared the first hurdle, it still needs to more approvals and a public hearing, as well as consideration of the financial impact it will have on the town.


“The annexation is the first piece. The way the law works, you need to have 12.5 percent of the external boundary to touch current town limits, and it meets that requirement. We are currently working with Arbor Homes on the layout and development standards for the project. We anticipate to send that to the Plan Commission in June for their review,” Zaklikowski said. 

Southern Hancock to make 'virtual school' available

As Indiana continues to climb out of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by local and state officials, there has been much speculation about what August will look like when students return to school.


The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County is trying to make the transition back to the classroom as smooth as possible for students and parents, as they announced recently the implementation of a full-time online curriculum (virtual school) for families who wish to keep their children home to mitigate the risk for their children or family.


In an e-mail to parents, superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip said, “We believe it is critical to offer a variety of educational opportunities for families based on the health of their students and other family members.”


Wes Anderson, community relations manager for the district, told Giant FM the idea of the virtual school is the result of a realization that parents may have reservations in August.
“We understand those concerns and want to still be able to provide them with the same quality Southern Hancock education,” Anderson said.


Anderson said it is the district’s hope that parents will be able to see the intent is to continue to provide the best education possible for all students in all situations during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“The virtual school’s curriculum will be full E-Learning. However, we are still evaluating other options for the start of school that may include part-time E-Learning for some students. Those decisions have not been finalized yet,” Anderson told Giant FM.


The district is still working on finalizing registration info, and Anderson said the district hopes to have that out to the public as soon as possible.


“We understand this is a short summer and want to move as quickly as possible to get a quality virtual curriculum ready for students for 2020-21,” Anderson said. 

Hancock County sets dates to hold 4H Fair events

The good news – it now looks like there will be a Hancock County Fair this year.

 

The bad news – it will be unlike any other fair.
 

After weeks of discussions and speculations, the Hancock County Agricultural Association voted in favor of having all events related to 4-H at the fair, which will be July 10-17.  However, that is all that will take place, as there will no vendors, no food, no rides and no other events.  The only events that will take place are those that need judged by 4-H judges.
 

Those in attendance will have to adhere to social distancing and other mandatory precautions, and anyone attending will be subject to tracking for the purposes of COVID-19 tracing. The information will then be turned over to the Hancock County Health Department.

 

While there will be judging taking place, there is no decision yet as to what each event will look like.
 

Officials are asking for patience from those who may attend.
 

“Please be patient at this time, as we do not have all the answers you may seek,” Hancock County Agricultural Association president Josh Phares and Purdue Extension Hancock County director Brian Greer wrote in a letter.
 

The two hope to have more concrete answers in the near future.
 

Officials have said the 4-H Exhibit Hall will be open for limited hours and attendance. Any project would be evaluated through a closed judging process. The arena will be open during animal events.
 

While that much is known, the fair is still an uncertainty, as officials wait to see if Hancock County will be part of the Stage 5 reopening, which is slated to begin July 4.
Under Stage 5, large events with more than 250 people attending can be held.


Recently, Casey Mull, assistant director of extension, 4-H Youth Development Program Leader, and Jason Henderson, Director of Extension, reached out to families stating events will have to comply with social distancing guidelines, daily screening of employees and volunteers working on behalf of the extension, and other health and safety restrictions.
Greer told Giant FM that because Indiana 4-H is a Purdue-sponsored organization, all decisions regarding postponement or cancellation of events due to COVID-19 are made at the institutional level.
 

“At this moment, I can’t say what exactly the fair will look like. As for whether the fair will be safer, Purdue Extension and the Hancock County 4-H are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all of our 4-H families and public fair goers. Thus, we follow guidelines provided to us by Purdue University leadership and public health officials,” Greer told Giant FM.

 

 

Proposed Fortville riverfront district stays on agenda until June

After months of questions and discussions, the Fortville Town Council has pumped the brakes on the implementation of a riverfront district in town.  Earlier this month, officials approved first reading of the district, but recently, the town tabled the measure until June.


“We’re in no big hurry. There’s no development yet,” councilman Fritz Fentz said before officials opted to take the measure up at the June 15 meeting.


Indiana law allows municipalities to create a riverfront development district within a redevelopment area. While there is no river in Fortville, officials are using parts of a creek and ditches throughout town for the distinction. The state does have a stipulation that districts have to be within 1,500 feet of a waterway, however, what constitutes as a waterway is open to interpretation.


On May 4, the council picked back up with the discussions as Fortville’s planning and building director, Adam Zaklikowski, reminded council the primary reason for seeking the riverfront district was to allow for additional alcohol permits throughout town. Council voted in favor of first reading, but not before a no vote by councilman Robert Holland and plenty of discussion.


“We are almost at max capacity, and this is a legal way to do it,” Zaklikowski said.


There are three kinds of permits available to restaurants – beer, beer and wine and beer, wine and spirits. Fortville is currently at its max on permits, which are not transferable and do not allow for carryout.


The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, may, upon recommendation of the town, issue a non-transferrable permit to the proprietor of a restaurant or event venue for the purpose of selling alcoholic beverages within the boundaries of a riverfront development district.


The Fortville Redevelopment Commission determined the creation of the district will help remove barriers to development in the downtown business district. The riverfront district will operate in Fortville’s TIF district, which spans along much of Broadway Street and Maple Street/Fortville Pike. The RDC oversees the TIF district.


Under the ordinance, the RDC shall determine if an applicant will receive a letter requesting the ATC’s approval through several steps. Those steps include: the proprietor submitting a letter of request to the RDC explaining the need for the permit, the type of business and the square footage of the building. The RDC will also conduct a public hearing and a notice shall be posted on the site a minimum of 10 days in advance of the hearing. Furthermore, in making its decision of approval or denial, the RDC will consider the proprietor’s reputation and business plan, if the business is focused on a dining and/or entertainment experience rather an alcohol-based consumption experience and whether the business will be detrimental to nearby property values. Finally, the business will further the intent of perpetuating Fortville as an enjoyable, mixed use small town atmosphere for residents and visitors alike and can draw new business activity to the town, be located within the TIF district, the RDC shall provide approval to the proprietor and ATC and annual renewals and complaints shall be reviewed by the RDC. The ATC will automatically renew a permit if there is no notification from the RDC. Should a complaint be filed, the RDC will hold a public hearing to discuss the complaint with the permit holder and remonstrators, and will notify the ATC of its findings.


For Holland, the fact that final approval rested with the RDC and not the Fortville Town Council was a sticking point and the reason for his no vote.


“I really feel like final approval of this should come through the council. I have no issue with the RDC looking at this, and, if there is something not right, if they want to go to the petitioner, I am okay with that. Since this is brand new, I really want council to have the final say on it,” Holland said.
Scott Meyer, a member of the RDC, told Holland and council the RDC’s involvement gives the process a sense of being out of any realm of political controversy.


“The RDC all agreed this needs to be a one visit, one stop, one answer place for the person to come. It has nothing to do with any of the council members. I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of these that come to the RDC. I don’t think we are looking at 15-20 or even 10 of these opportunities to present themselves. We are trying to make it as easy as possible and take politics out of it,” Meyer said.


Council member Libby Wyatt stated her main concern was knowledge of what was happening in town.


Holland agreed, asking what would happen if council was not in favor of something and the RDC is, what would happen next and vice versa.


“I don’t think anyone will go unheard. If the full RDC is in favor, that will be the decision,” Meyer said.
Holland countered by saying he still believed the final decision should be with the council, stating as the ordinance is current written, there is no veto power for the council.


“If that’s your concern, then you’ll have to vote RDC out. If you want final say, then you should have only say. It is an issue either way but it is a matter of working together,” Meyer said.

Hancock Co.to keep looking at logistics of holding 4H fair

For those awaiting word on the status of the Hancock County Fair, they will have to wait a little while longer.


Brian Greer, Purdue extension educator for 4-H/youth development, notified Hancock County residents and 4-H participants Friday that the Hancock County 4-H is holding off on an announcement surrounding the fair until early next week.


“Why? There are many factors and considerations that must be addressed before we can provide a detailed plan for our county’s fair… The 4-H Ag Association and I will be meeting next Monday to discuss how the fair will proceed given the latest guidelines from campus. I ask for your patience while we sift through all the new information we have just received,” Greer wrote.


Purdue officials responded with a letter of their own, as Jason Henderson, Director of Extension, and Casey Mull, assistant director of extension, 4-H Youth Development Program Leader, both reached out to families.


“Purdue Extension will continue its current policy of no in-person events through June 30, 2020.

 

Beginning July 1, Purdue Extension will permit in-person events that comply with Indiana’s Back on Track plan,” they wrote.


They did write that large events with more than 250 persons attending can only be held when the county has Stage 5 and added that such events must comply with social distancing guidelines, daily screening of employees and volunteers working behalf of the extension, and other health and safety restrictions.


At this moment, the Hancock County 4-H Fair is slated for July 10-17.


Greer told Giant FM that because Indiana 4-H is a Purdue-sponsored organization, all decisions regarding postponement or cancellation of events due to COVID-19 are made at the institutional level.


“At this moment, I can’t say what exactly the fair will look like. As for whether the fair will be safer, Purdue Extension and the Hancock County 4-H are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all of our 4-H families and public fair goers. Thus, we follow guidelines provided to us by Purdue University leadership and public health officials,” Greer told Giant FM.

Greenfield to build new wastewater treatment plant; rate increases

The city of Greenfield is moving ahead with plans on a huge investment that will impact residents in more ways than one moving forward. 

 

Officials have unveiled and approved plans to build a new wastewater treatment plant, which comes with a price tag of about $39 million, and is deemed necessary to stay in compliance with requirements with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.


Nicholas Dezelan, wastewater utility manager, told Giant FM, the process for the new plant began two years ago, but on April 1, 2020, the city received a letter of noncompliance from IDEM for repeated ammonia violations, something the town is working to get in compliance. Dezelan told Giant FM a recent study showed several things to the city of Greenfield, including the need for an expansion of the plant, which is located at 809 S. Street and takes care of all the city’s residential and commercial water use.

 

 

Dezelan said the hope is construction will be underway next year and by Oct. 1, 2022 it needs to be online and ready to go for the city.

 

Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell said the upgrades were necessary, especially as growth continues to come to his city.

 

 

Fewell said he knows there is never a good time to raise rates, but he admits Greenfield has been working on this project for two years. Fewell said he understands some residents are financially strapped during this period, but residents had an opportunity to speak out against the measure.

 

 

Mike Fruth, director of utilities for Greenfield, echoed Fewell’s statements, saying it is vital the town maintains the plant and makes improvements for the next generation.

 

 

The city is paying for the project with bonds through a rate increase for Greenfield utility customers.

The new rates will hit customers July 1 and will be stretched out in three steps over two years. After the initial increase in July, residents will see an increase in March 2021 and January 2022.

 

According to city officials, a small residential customer using 1,000 gallons of water in a month would see their rates increase from $19.77 to $36.89 in 2022. In July, the rate will be set at $4.42 per 1,000 gallons, and increase to $5.22 next March and then $5.90 in January 2022.

New Pal HS sets graduation date; schools named for new housing

After months of speculation and questions on social media, the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County officially has a graduation plan for its 2020 seniors.


At Monday’s board meeting, officials voted in favor of an in person graduation ceremony on Saturday, July 11 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will take place at Kelso Stadium. Based on Governor Eric Holcomb’s plans to reopen the state, district officials announced each family will receive four tickets to the ceremony to ensure proper social distancing measures are followed. In addition, the tickets will permit admittance to a specific section of the Kelso Stadium bleachers.


District officials have said families will be required to sit in the section of the bleachers indicated on their tickets. Furthermore, graduates will also sit six feet apart on the football field.


Should the event get rained out, a second attempt to hold commencement will be held at 5 p.m. on July 11. If the weather does not permit a Saturday ceremony to be held, a third attempt will be held on Sunday, July 12, at 1 p.m.


Should that not work, a virtual commencement will be held at 1 p.m. on July 12. Additional information will be sent to seniors and their families at a later date, according to district officials.
Wes Anderson, director of community relations and communications, told Giant FM, the district’s hopes was to have an in-person ceremony.


“Our goal during this process was to make every attempt to have an in-person ceremony. We consulted with our seniors. They made it clear they wanted an in-person ceremony, if possible. We have created multiple weather contingencies to get this ceremony in over the course of the scheduled weekend,” Anderson said.


In other board news, the district approved a request from superintendent Dr. Lisa Lantrip to assign two new housing additions to their future elementary schools.


For families who will live in Grant’s Corner, which will be at the intersection of U.S. 40 and County Road 700 West, their students will attend Sugar Creek Elementary.


Families who will live in Cooperstone, located at the intersection of County Road 500 West and County Road 200 South, their children will attend Brandywine Elementary. 

Cumberland convenience store robbery may be tied to others in Hancock Co.

Cumberland Police are looking for three men who held up a convenience store.

 

Three men held up the Speedway gas station on North German Church Road April 13, according to Crime Stoppers.

 

The trio emptied the cash register and stole cigarettes before running away. One of the men had a black handgun, according to police.

 

All three suspects are described as black males in their late teens or early 20s.

 

Police believe they may be connected to other recent robberies in Hancock County.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 317-926-8477.

Apartment fire closes Greenfield pizza restaurant

A popular Greenfield pizza restaurant has been forced to shut its doors for the unforeseen future due to a fire in an upstairs apartment.


Greenfield firefighters responded to a call Saturday morning of a fire in the first block of West Main Street, which houses Hometown Classic Pizza and an apartment. Officials with the Greenfield Fire Territory said the fire started in the upstairs apartment due to smoking. One person was in the apartment when the fire began and was able to escape unscathed, however, a pet died in the fire. The apartment was deemed a complete loss.
 

Owners of Hometown Classic Pizza turned to social media to let customers know their business will be closed temporarily as they assess damage and make repairs.
 

“To all our customers, there was a fire in the upstairs apartment apparently due to a lit cigarette. No one was injured thank goodness. Thank you so much to the Greenfield firefighters. The pizza shop has suffered water damage... We will be shut down temporarily to assess damage and make repairs ,” they wrote.

New date for Hancock Co. 4-H Fair to be announced this week

While there are many uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, one thing is for certain – the Hancock County 4-H Fair will have a new date.


Recently, officials announced last week the fair will be moved from its June date, and that, while it is moved, it is not cancelled. Officials are slated to announce new dates on April 21.


Brian Greer, Purdue extension educator for 4-H/youth development, told Giant FM, this is the first time he has had to reschedule and re-plan for such a large event.


In a letter to 4-H members and families, officials with Purdue’s Extension 4-H Youth Development stated that all face to face events would be banned until June 30, 2020.


“We do not take this decision lightly. The health and well-being of the 4-H’ers, families, volunteers, employees and communities is our top priority. Our hearts break in your disappointment. Right now, and always, 4-H Youth Development will continue to provide opportunities for youth to learn, grow, develop skills and showcase and celebrate their achievements. We will try new things and relate to each other in innovative ways. We will harness the resilience and determination 4-H has taught us, and we will stand in awe of the individuals and communities 4-H has built,” the letter read.


Greer wrote his own letter to Hancock County 4-H families and has held a Facebook live session to answer questions by families.


“Since Indiana 4-H is a Purdue-sponsored organization, all decisions regarding the postponement or cancellation of events due to COVID-19 are made at the institutional level,” Greer told Giant FM.
As for what the fair could look like under new dates, and, potential new guidelines, Greer told Giant FM he is unsure.


“At this moment, I can’t say what exactly the fair will look like. We are still developing a plan. We will announce the new fair dates and schedule April 21. As for whether the fair will be safer, Purdue Extension and the Hancock County 4-H are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all our 4-H families and public fair-goers. Thus, we follow guidelines provided to us by Purdue University leadership and public health officials,” Greer said. 

NYC murder, local drug charges in Hancock County arrest

A NYC murder suspect has been caught in Hancock County.

 

On Tuesday, April 14, at 12:10 pm PACE Team Sergeant James Goodwin of the Henry County Sheriff’s Department was patrolling westbound Interstate 70 near the Hancock County / Henry County Line near the 113 mile marker. Sgt. Goodwin observed a white Honda Civic with a New York license plate. This vehicle committed multiple marked lane violations prompting Sgt. Goodwin to perform a license plate inquiry. The license plate came back with a wanted hit for felonies and the occupants were deemed armed and dangerous. 

 

Sgt. Goodwin radioed his dispatch and coordinated a multi-agency response to converge on his location to safely conduct a high risk felony apprehension stop. This was done to ensure the safety of the occupants and the safety of the other motoring public. 

 

Sgt. Goodwin was then met by multiple other law enforcement agencies where he coordinated the apprehension at the 109 mile marker along westbound interstate 70 in Hancock County. The driver fled for a couple miles while traveling westbound on interstate 70 before pulling over. 

 

The driver Muhammad Habib age 24 of Jamaica, NY was arrested without incident and was wanted for multiple felonies out of New York namely, Murder in the Second Degree related to the stabbing homicide of 43 year old victim, Wycliffe Gentles, which occurred on Monday, April 13, 2020 within the confines of Queens County, NY.

 

The female passenger, Khusbu Patel age 22 of Queens, NY was also arrested without incident on local charges for multiple drug violations.(See below).  

 

Sgt. Goodwin and Sgt. Ernstes of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Dept. searched the white Honda Civic and found two pounds of suspected marijuana, suspected crack cocaine, multiple packages of illicit pills and heroin. 

 

Detective McFarland of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Dept. was also called to the scene where she conducted a searched incident to arrest of the female passenger Khusbu Patel and found that she was concealing suspected narcotics in her clothing. 

 

The felony warrant from New York had just been active on April 13th, 2020 by NYPD's Queens Homicide Detectives and Detectives of the 103 Precinct in Queens County. 

 

The occupants were allegedly traveling from New York to Missouri. The investigation is ongoing at this time. 

 

Multiple law enforcement agencies assisted in the felony apprehension including the Indiana State Police, Knightstown Police, Henry County Sheriff, Hancock County Sheriff and the Shirley Police Department. 

 

Muhammad Habib was arrested and is being held in the Hancock County Jail pending a warrant for Murder in the Second Degree and associated charges, in Queens County, New York. 

 

His local charges include:

Dealing Marijuana

Possession of Cocaine

Possession of Heroin

Possession of Controlled substance (1)

Possession of a Controlled Substance (2)

Resisting Law Enforcement

 

Khusbu Patel is also being held in the Hancock County Jail and her charges include:

Possession of Cocaine

Possession of Heroin

Possession of Controlled substance (1)

Possession of a Controlled Substance (2)

Dealing Marijuana

New Palestine Town Council says town employee violated COVID-19 declaration

Another meeting, another embarrassment for New Palestine town officials.
 

Recently, town officials acknowledged that its own clerk-treasurer had violated a declaration of local emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak, thus prompting officials to extend the declaration by another 30 days.


In the same month the town council censured Tonii Pyle, the clerk-treasurer, council hit Pyle with an allegation of violating an emergency order, which stated only employees could be inside town hall.


Town council president Brandee Bastin said she sent an email to all employees, stating what the restrictions were.Bastin said the email stated that only employees were allowed inside the buildings and the town’s community room was closed to the public except for town council meetings.


“It’s clear what it means to me,” Bastin told council.
 

Fellow council member Bill Niemier said he thought council was “dancing around” who was in violation and asked how the emergency declaration was not followed.
 

“We had somebody that was public in town hall that was allowed in town hall in two separate occasions where it was stated nobody from public be allowed. We had a town employee allow public access after it was said no public allowed. The executive order was not followed. How is it enforced,” council member Angie Fahrnow said.
 

Bastin dug in her heels on the emergency declaration.
 

“I don’t feel like this order says I can bring my children in here or anyone else in here. I’m an elected official, and I don’t feel like it tells me I have an exception and can bring anyone into the building,” she said.
 

However, it wasn’t clear to Pyle, who, according to council, brought former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss and a small child to town hall on two occasions and allowed them access to her office.

 

Earlier this year, the town council terminated a contract drawn up between Hilligoss and Pyle and made it Hilligoss was not to be allowed back to assist Pyle.
 

As a result, a no trespass notice was given to Hilligoss.
 

“If that person comes back a third time in violation, they would be arrested,” Niemier said.